Finding Purpose Outside of Work

Finding Purpose Outside of Work - Rachel Tenenbaum

Life purpose is often misunderstood as some huge task and undertaking to which we must dedicate all our time, our lives, and ultimately our careers.  When we divorce the idea that our purpose has to be aligned with our “work” we avail ourselves to the myriad of micro-moments in which we can live out our purpose and find regular fulfillment.

If your purpose is connecting with humans and lighting them up, a simple, intentional, “how is your day?” to your grocery store assistant, neighbor or your child’s teacher can make a world of difference. Micro connections can transform a moment, and have a butterfly effect for those with whom you interact, and also for yourself. These moments can act as a first step from which countless other powerful interactions follow. 

How do you determine your purpose outside of your work? 

First, know that your purpose isn’t fixed. We didn’t come into this life with ONE purpose and if we do not fulfill it, our life is meaningless. Rather know that you can have many purposes. We get to choose, according to our values, what will bring us the most fulfillment. Your purpose today can be different than what it was 10 years ago, or even 10 days ago. 

Second, do the work to really discover and reflect on what lights you up. This can be done by reflecting on moments when you felt most alive, most connected to yourself and those around you.

This can be done by pouring through pictures and remembering moments that made you feel most alive.

OR by going out with a camera and taking pictures of things that excite and enliven you. 

Next, look for consistency or a theme within the moments that most light you up. 

Finally, once you have established a particular theme, think outside the box. Be willing to be unconventional. Look for ways outside work and even creative ways inside work, which enable you to regularly access those points of fulfillment. 

A leadership client of mine knows his purpose is to call people forth to create greater meaning in their life. And he does this through visual and auditory art.  As a leader in the Oil + Gas industry, he is limited in his ability to marry his purpose and passion with his job requirements. So what does he do?  He regularly dedicates time, be it 20 minutes or an hour, to work on projects that call others to action, through art. While this is not the makeup of his day, those snippets of time leave him fulfilled, inspired, and able to give more to his family, colleagues and career. 

Another client finds fulfillment through his interactions with animals. While his day-to-day work does not include four-legged creatures, he regularly volunteers at the Humane Society.

For myself, I find great fulfillment through giving back and empowering others around the world. Outside of my work, I get to feed this purpose through the volunteer work I do with global organizations. 

To boil it down:

  1. Recognize that your purpose doesn’t have to be fixed.

  2. Do the work to discover what lights you up.

  3. Acknowledge that you can feed and find fulfillment through micro-moments, which have a greater impact than you will ever know.

  4. Whenever you feel stagnant, check-in to see if you are still fulfilled by your chosen actions, and reassess accordingly. 


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